Anybody have rituals they do when a patient passes? - page 2

I am thinking about going to my favorite coffee place, getting myself a coffee, and paying for the person behind me. I will leave a simple note saying, "this act of kindness was done in memory of a... Read More

  1. by   Ambersmom
    Quote from crnfaIwillbe
    I just hate it when a patient dies because patients rarely die on my unit. And have thought of coping mechanisms for a long time. I thought about donating blood but I dont weigh enough. I weigh 96 pounds on a good day and after a large meal. I thought about having a drink in their honor but stopped myself because I know using alcohol to cope is heading down a dangerous road. I got this idea from facebook. A friend shared a facebook story of a woman who anonymously buys a cake on the day of what would have been her daughters birthday. Her daughter passed from I believe was SIDS, so she buys a cake because she cant get one for her daughter. I am really questioning leaving the note. I could say hug your loved ones extra tight tonight.
    There are other ways to memorialize patients you've lost (and I hope I never get so detached from my patients that a death doesnt bother me) you could: light a candle in their honor, donate to a local charity with a note thats says in memory of.., buy thise donation papers they have in stores, put in memory of louie or whatever you could take an afternoon and watch a sunset and say a prayer(if you pray) or a moment to honor them, or donate something to an animal shelter,or buy a book or magazine subscription for the unit in memory of the patient, etc. I think buying the coffee is a nice idea, the note not so much, imo. BUT what really matters is what makes you feel good and helps you cope. Everyone handles losing a patient differently, you're heart is in the right place.
  2. by   Accolay
    What I can do for patents who die is take care of them the best I can while they're alive, and clean them and their room up for family viewing when they die.
  3. by   crnfaIwillbe
    I think you're right. A big part of the reason I want to do this is because a patient complained that I didnt make a personal connection with them. And now, I am paranoid I am not doing enough. My friends describe me as blunt and not very touchy feely. People dont always think I care, when I do. I see a therapist and I told her how my manager wants me make connections with my patients made me feel. And she brought up, "well what about you?" And I think my therapist is right. Plus, its more beneficial to maintain professional boundaries with patients.
  4. by   djh123
    I don't deal with death very often (thankfully), but sometimes I'm pronouncing someone and there's no one in the room but me and them, and once I said very quietly, "I was very glad to know you". I've said "Rest in peace, my friend", and also at other times, when I'm reminded of a favorite resident who's gone, I say that too.
  5. by   NurseCard
    I don't deal with death often on my unit either; in fact I don't believe I've
    had a patient die in the 1.5 years that I've been employed here.

    I also believe that your idea is a very nice one... how about a different
    message. "here is a free coffee for you. Life is short... Enjoy it! ",
    or something like that.
  6. by   gemmi999
    I work in the ER, and unfortunately death is something I see more often then I'd like. While there are times when it is unexpected, somebody young, or a disease process that moved much quicker then expected, a lot of times I feel the family and the patient know what is coming. That being said there are a couple things I tend to do when I have a patient die.

    - I say the Shema, a Jewish prayer that basically celebrates G-d. It's weird but reminding myself of G-d reminds me that these decisions are not in my hands. I do my job to the best of my ability. The rest is out of my hands.

    - Ensure that if the family is there they have tissues and private time with the patient, and do not rush them even if we need the bed for another patient. Even if that means telling the charge RN that it's going to be another hour or two b/c the patient and the family deserve it.

    - Remind myself that death is part of the disease process. A lot of times pt's come to us mid disease process and we get them stable and send them home. That can't happen every time. We can try, but the disease is killing the patient (at least with chronic diseases that have no cure). Like CHF, etc.

    Hope this helps!
  7. by   HalfBoiled
    Tequila with my coworkers.
  8. by   /username
    Call the donation agency within one hour of cardiac death.
  9. by   nutella
    Death is a normal part of life and in my job (palliative care) death is a frequent occurrence.
    I view death as the dying process as something "normal" - granted, in the US we have institutionalized death and society is somewhat removed from experiencing death as a "normal" part of life but it is not optional and it is normal.
    What is "not normal" is the way people approach the topic "dying" and "death" and the way people often approach this last part of life. Family members and medical professionals can put a person through much discomfort and "suffering" through too many interventions, too aggressive treatments, and transitions in hope to "give him/her a chance" (regardless of the fact that mom /dad is 90 + years old...), don't want to let go, or just want to avoid any "dealing with this" (and hope that the person "just drops dead").

    Some people going through the dying process with more discomfort than others. When I am in the room while somebody passes, I silently say a "prayer" that is congruent with my spiritual believes - if there is no family in the room (just me and the patient) I say it out loud.
    Our team is small but we also talk to each if there is something that keeps us "busy" or if we need to get closure.
    There are floors who had small ceremonies on their floors when a patient had an extended stay and died under difficult circumstances.
  10. by   jodispamodi
    I have done "random acts of kindness" but rather than saying "in memory of" I just say, "to honor someone special" and leave it at that.
    When Someone passes unexpectedly on the unit (if its my patient) I just ask no one talk to me about it for a bit until I can get my game face back on. I offer the deceased a silent prayer and take a moment to reflect on just how precious life is. Then I move on.
  11. by   brillohead
    On our unit, we typically raid the bereavement cart for any good snacks or drinks that are still there after the family has left.

    And I second (third? fourth? fifth?) the comments both about death being just another part of life, and also the need to separate your professional and personal lives.

    My first patient death was actually someone that I knew, and we had spent the whole night reminiscing about people/places we both knew, etc. It was not an expected death, and the patient was a full-code, so we went through the whole code scenario before pronouncing it. As luck would have it, I was at the end of a long run of shifts, so I had the whole next week off. I stopped at the store on the way home and purchased a couple tons of ice cream and cookies and proceeded to eat my way through processing the whole thing. I was fine after that, and no other death has affected me that way since (I really think the first one just hit me harder because I knew him).
  12. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from crnfaIwillbe
    I just hate it when a patient dies because patients rarely die on my unit. And have thought of coping mechanisms for a long time. I thought about donating blood but I dont weigh enough. I weigh 96 pounds on a good day and after a large meal. I thought about having a drink in their honor but stopped myself because I know using alcohol to cope is heading down a dangerous road. I got this idea from facebook. A friend shared a facebook story of a woman who anonymously buys a cake on the day of what would have been her daughters birthday. Her daughter passed from I believe was SIDS, so she buys a cake because she cant get one for her daughter. I am really questioning leaving the note. I could say hug your loved ones extra tight tonight.
    If you've lost a child, I can see why this ritual might be comforting. But losing a patient? No. Especially the part about losing a patient.

    If you want to do a private ritual when you lose a patient, please think of something that is meaningful to you but doesn't drag perfect strangers into it. Say a prayer, send up a balloon for them, write a brief memory of them in your journal.
  13. by   Ohm268
    I love this post because I have been thinking about what I would do if a patient passes and I am the provider over the last few days so this post was very timely. I don't know if it is the new year or the the inclement weather across the US right now but it has put me in that frame of mind. I am not a nurse yet but I will be starting nursing school in June. Since I will be working with a lot of babies and mothers in my future specialty, I wanted to prepare myself a little for a loss of a patient. I am not saying that this is going to happen, I just want to be prepared for the possibility that this might happen especially working with mothers and babies where the emotional impact can be especially high to both the nurses and the patients.

    I normally carry a set of malas (think of them as similar to rosaries in the Catholic faith) and I was thinking of simply meditating in a quiet space and sending them good thoughts to where ever their non-corporeal form goes as determined by their faith and say a few mantras for them. It is just for myself and it is done for my own personal comfort and a way of dealing with the stresses of a job that I know can take a toll on its nurses. But having a personal ritual is a nice way of acknowledging someone passing while also giving yourself a way to let go of the event.

    Thank you to the community for all the suggestions. I will look them over and see what will work for me and see if I can incorporate some of the suggestions into my own personal ritual.
    Last edit by Ohm268 on Jan 8

close